Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Dear Friends & Family,
We are writing this letter to you on the eve of the one year-anniversary of Haiti's devastating earthquake. We can't help but we remember all our loved ones who are in Haiti today. We remember the mothers, brothers, grandpas, pastors and friends still trapped beneath the rubble. We remember the thousands of orphans still homeless. We remember those who are hungry and living in the streets. We remember those who are sick with cholera. We remember those who mourn their dead. We remember those who have persevered and rise on a new hope today. We remember.
Last summer when we were in Haiti we witnessed some of the devastation in Port Au Prince. The images of collapsed buildings, tent cities upon tent cities and piles of rubble remain indelible in our minds. We interviewed one earthquake survivor who has relocated to the mountain town of Pignon where our ministry is based. She is the cousin of our friend Walquis who lived here in Fresno with us and attended Fresno Pacific University. She described in detail the day of the earthquake. She got up that morning in her house in Port Au Prince. She showered and started her day as she normally would. Then the earthquake struck and she felt the whole house shaking violently. Her friends came and urged her to get out of the house. Just as she got out the door, the entire house collapsed. "God saved me," she said. The young woman was able to benefit from the Food Distribution program through Christian Friendship Ministries (supplied by Gleanings for the Hungry in Dinuba, California). She shared her gratefulness for God's provision in her life.
The earthquake on January 12, 2010 shook the small country of Haiti and our family as well. That single event was a catalyst for change. God has truly been knitting our hearts together with His mission work in Haiti for a long time, but the earthquake presented us with a defining moment. Reflecting on the story of Esther in the Bible, we decided "for such a time as this" we were ready to go to Haiti and be used by God. Of course, we didn't know exactly what that would like or how long it would take to get there. We didn't know if the Haitians would welcome us. We didn't know if it was a wise or safe decision. We only knew that we needed to step forward in obedience to God. In some ways, it's hard to believe it's been a year since the earthquake has happened. We have been on a wild roller coaster ride as we have been downsizing our possessions, trying to sell our Fresno home, and working odd jobs to make ends meet. God has truly been doing surgery on our hearts as we prepare for life in a place so different from our home in the United States.
This fall we really started working on fundraising and sharing our desire to go to Haiti with others. In our last letter, we detailed our financial needs to you. We estimate we will need $3,300 monthly (approximately $40,000 total) to live in Haiti for a year, including start-up costs. In December, the Crossfit/S.P.E.E.D. gym where Ericlee works hosted a fitness competition and fundraiser for our family. Many local businesses offered raffle/silent auction prizes for the event. We were so surprised that this event raised more than $1,000 in just a few hours. We were even more blessed to have the opportunity to share our heart for Haiti with a new group of people. The gym's owner Erik Traeger was so jazzed about the fundraiser that he wants to do another one in February - this time a team competition - to help us with our continued needs to get to Haiti.
We are happy to report that we have made our first fundraising goal with all of your help! Now we are moving on to the second phase, which is raising money for an all-terrain vehicle for our use and to bless the ministry of Christian Friendship Ministries. This is an important need. Right now our Haitian Field Director Peter has a rundown truck that has to be fixed every time he takes a trip to Port Au Prince. There are no other working vehicles for this ministry, which is spread across the northern mountains of Haiti. Peter has done some research for us and we might have the possibility of buying this vehicle through the Dominican Republic or shipping one over but the price will still be high. We will need an estimated $50,000 for a dependable vehicle that can handle the mountain terrain. The price tag feels overwhelming but we claim Genesis 18:14, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
We urge you to remember Haiti with us. This past Sunday we attended a concert by the Haitian Children's Choir (see HisLittleFeet.org) who were on tour in Fresno. We had an incredible time of worship as we watched 15 beautiful Haitian orphans from the northern mountains of Haiti sing their hearts out in praise. As they belted out the words of Matt Redman's worship song, we were reminded of our call to Haiti. These words pierced us, "Blessed be Your name/ One the road marked with suffering/ Though there's pain in the offering/Blessed be your name/ Every blessing You pour out/ I'll turn back to praise/ And when the darkness closes in, Lord/ Still I will say/ Blessed be the name of the Lord." Our hearts beat for the children of Haiti. We are waiting for God's signal on the right time to go...
We are humbled and grateful for all your generous support!
In His Grip,
Ericlee, Dorina, Meilani & Giada Gilmore
How you can Help:
-Our friends Stacie & Forest Benedict are helping us organize a Yard Sale Fundraiser for Saturday, January 22. If you have items you would like to donate or time to come help us sort goods on Friday night or sell/serve hot chocolate to shoppers on Saturday morning, let us know. If you live in Fresno, we invite you to share this event with others who like to check out a good Yard Sale.
-Many of you have expressed interest in supporting us monthly as we are in Haiti. Please let us know what you want to commit so we can plan our budget for the year.
-Would you be willing to help us share our heart for Haiti with others? Consider hosting a no-fuss Dessert Night in your home or helping us connect with your church missions pastor or missions committee.
-Consider joining us for a short-term trip to Haiti in 2011. We are planning trips for a Vacation Bible School, Music Camp, Educators Conference, Women's Conference, Construction and more.
How you can Pray:
-Pray that we can sell our house in Fresno in the next month.
-Pray for our continued fundraising efforts (Yard Sale in January, Crossfit fundraiser in February, meetings with supporters and churches).
-Pray that we can find a good price on an all-terrain vehicle that we can use in the mountains of Haiti.
-Pray for us as we build bridges across cultural lines with our Haitian ministry partners.